Chromebook and tablet shipments are dropping worldwide

Chromebook and tablet shipments are dropping worldwide

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic kickstarted a surge in working from home, which led to shortages of everything from laptops to webcams. Thankfully, production eventually ramped up enough to meet demand, but now we’re starting to see the booming sales trail off. New industry reports indicate shipments of tablets and Chromebooks all saw a decline from 2020 to 2021.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has published preliminary data (via GizmoChina) on the sales of tablets and Chromebooks in Q4 2021, which covers October, November, and December of last year. That’s prime holiday shopping season, and in some cases, people shopping for upgrades in the early-to-middle stages of a school semester might buy something new around that time. However, shipment numbers were reportedly lower across the board compared to Q4 2020.

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Top Five Tablet Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q4 2021 (Preliminary results, combined company view for the current quarter only, shipments in millions)

Tablet shipments, Q4 2020 vs. Q4 2021 (Source: IDC)

Tablet sales from all major manufacturers were lower in Q4 2021 than Q4 2020, with an 8.6% drop for Apple, 21.6% decrease for Samsung, 25.4% drop for Lenovo, and a decrease of 13.9% for Huawei. The only company in the top five to see increased sales Year-over-Year (YoY) in Q4 was Amazon, which increased shipments by 1.3%.

Top Five Chromebook Companies, Worldwide Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q4 2021 (Preliminary results, combined company view for the current quarter only, shipments in millions)

Chromebook shipments, Q4 2020 vs. Q4 2021 (Source: IDC)

Chromebook shipments also saw a decline during the same period, but even steeper. Acer’s Chromebook sales dropped by 43%, Dell by 63%, HP by 87%, and so on. According to the IDC, all manufacturers combined sold 63.6% fewer Chromebooks in Q4 2021 than Q4 2020.

However, sales numbers were overall higher when comparing the entire year of 2020 to 2021. Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, and Amazon all sold more tablets in 2021 than 2020, with only Huawei seeing a steep decline — possibly because Huawei hasn’t released a new tablet since the MatePad 10.8 in August 2020, and the MatePad Pro is getting pretty old. Chromebook sales were higher for almost all companies in the same timeframe, with HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Samsung increasing their numbers compared to 2020. Dell was the odd one out, with a 5.2% decrease in Chromebook shipments from 2020 to 2021.

So, what does all this mean? Well, it’s a good indicator that people were still buying Chromebooks and tablets at higher levels throughout 2021, but the demand is definitely dropping. Working from home isn’t going anywhere (though some executives and managers would like to think otherwise), so demand for these devices will likely remain higher than pre-2020 levels for the foreseeable future, but the intense rush on laptops and webcams might finally be behind us.

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Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer. Check out what he's up to at corbin.io.

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